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UT Austin, Grammarly to Study Effective AI Use in Higher Ed

The University of Texas at Austin is working with the AI-powered writing assistant platform Grammarly for Education to study what generative artificial intelligence tools might do for academia.

Image of a woman's hand activating an AI button
The University of Texas at Austin has partnered with the AI writing assistant platform Grammarly for Education to study the adoption of generative artificial intelligence tools in education.

According to a news release Monday, the project will be led by UT’s Office of Academic Technology as part of the university’s Year of AI initiative and will be conducted in two phases. Initially, the announcement said, a testing phase will take place where faculty and staff will use Grammarly’s generative AI assistant to develop AI-based tasks or assignments related to their respective fields and test them with students and colleagues. The second phase will have faculty create lesson plans that involve AI.

“We strive to be involved in projects that will influence higher education on and beyond the Forty Acres,” Art Markman, vice provost for academic affairs, said in a public statement. “We are in an era with a lot of uncertainty surrounding AI and education. This is a chance to demonstrate how to use generative AI as a positive source for education, teach responsibility to our students, and engage an industry leader to improve our understanding of classroom AI.”

According to the announcement, participants in the project will receive a short-term Grammarly for Education pilot license, access to the AI assistant and training on Grammarly for Education.

“We know that innovating with AI while preserving academic integrity and critical thinking is a key challenge that all institutions are grappling with right now,” Mary Rose Craycraft, head of education customer success at Grammarly for Education, said in a public statement. “We look forward to working with UT to develop best practices that can scale responsible AI adoption across the sector.”

The news release said that projects like the Grammarly adoption are carefully assessed and vetted by the Office of Academic Technology through its Learning Technology Adoption Process (LTAP), which aims to protect students and faculty from technologies that are “unsuitable for information security regulations.”

The project comes as universities across the country continue to adopt and develop AI tools for instructional uses as well as streamlining daily operations, such as at Arizona State University, which partnered this year with ChatGPT developer OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT’s enterprise version with additional data security features. Universities such as the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Diego have also developed their own in-house AI tools.

“Our primary generative AI strategy is to use evidence-based decision-making to drive effective, forward and responsible AI use in ways that advance the teaching and learning mission of the university,” Julie Schell, assistant vice provost of academic technology, said in a public statement. “We are very excited to work with Grammarly to engage the UT community and create generative AI activities and lesson plans vetted by UT faculty, staff and students that can be scaled with any generative AI tool.”